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While there has been a marginal decline in the incidents of acid attacks in the country in 2018 compared to the previous year, West Bengal accounted for the highest number of cases of such attacks, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NRCB) report released earlier this week.

In 2018, 228 incidents of acid attacks were recorded across the country against 240 victims. Of these, West Bengal recorded 50 incidents involving 53 victims.

In 2017, 244 acid attacks were recorded across the country and Bengal came second on the list with 54 incidents of acid attacks, while Uttar Pradesh recorded 56 incidents. Women were the victims in 131 of the 228 attacks accounting for more than 57 % of the cases.

Of these, again Bengal recorded the maximum number of 36 cases followed by Uttar Pradesh with 32 cases.

“An analysis of NCRB report for the past five years reveals that West Bengal has recorded highest number of acid attacks most of the times followed by Uttar Pradesh. The reason [for the high number of attacks] has been same for the past five years [which is] lack of monitoring of the sale of acid on the part of police and security agencies,” Dibyaloke Rai Chaudhuri, coordinator- headquarters, Acid Survivors & Women Welfare Foundation, told The Hindu.

More women

Mr. Rai Chaudhuri said NCRB data over the past few years points out that two out of every three acid attack victims are women.

“The common perception is that acid attack are mainly targeted towards women, but in some cases enmity and dispute results in acid attacks on men as well,” he said.

The NCRB report shows that West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi contribute to almost half of acid attacks in the country. In 2018, the three States — Bengal (50) U.P. (40) and Delhi (11) — accounted to 101 of the 228 incidents accounting to 44 % of all cases. In 2017 the three States Bengal (54), U.P. (56) and Delhi (14) accounted for 124 of the 244 cases or 50 % of all attacks.

Acid attacks are registered under Section 326 A of the Indian Penal Code, with a minimum punishment of 10 years imprisonment. Activists like Mr. Rai Chaudhuri said other than a specific penal section there are clear orders by Supreme Court on restricting sale of acid and compensation of victims who suffer the “worst kind of violence”.

Compared to 2017 the number of people convicted for acid attacks in 2018 was higher at 28. In 2017, 20 persons (all males) were convicted whereas in 2018 the number was 28 — 23 males and five females.